New Millennium Iron Corp. strives to become a significant, low-cost iron ore producer in North America serving the global market once production begins on its two largest deposits in Northern Canada, known as the Taconite Project.
The Montreal–based company was founded in 2003 as the New Millennium Capital Corp., but its name was changed in June 2011 to emphasize the company’s dedication as a producer of iron ore, President Dean Journeaux says. “That is our only focus,” he adds. “We are the fifth-largest holder of iron in the ground among the major iron ore companies.”
New Millennium controls extensive properties in Canada’s Labrador Trough, located in the provinces of Newfoundland, Labrador and Québec, where the Company is active on several fronts. In partnership with Tata Steel, a top-10 global steel producer headquartered in India, New Millennium Iron has invested in a direct shipping ore (DSO) project that is now producing and shipping.
New Millennium Iron’s strategic partnership with Tata Steel is a key catalyst for development. Tata Steel is part of India’s largest business group and expanded significantly into Europe in 2007 when it acquired the Anglo–Dutch steel maker Corus Group. New Millennium Iron’s resource base can provide Tata Steel Europe with high quality, captive ore from a stable and proximate source.
New Millennium Iron and Tata Steel are also completing a major feasibility study of development of the very large LabMag and KéMag deposits, known collectively as the Taconite Project. The Taconite Project consists of two deposits: the LabMag located in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the KeMag located in the Province of Quebec. New Millennium Iron controls this emerging 130-foot magnetic iron ore belt. Journeaux compares the Taconite Project to the Minnesota deposits, which have been mined and have been the key source of iron ore for steelmakers in the United States for the past 50 years.
The Taconite Project’s design is for the production of 22 million tonnes annually and operations could run for a total of 80 years or more. “This is a long-life project we are looking to get off the ground,” Journeaux says. “We are looking for additional partners to join us so we can financially justify this larger project.” New Millennium Iron and Tata Steel are together nearing completion of a $50 million feasibility study on the two deposits. The study began March 2011 and Tata Steel is funding two-thirds of the cost.
Passage into the Future
The most significant challenge of the Taconite Project is the lack of infrastructure in northern Quebec. “There is no road access to that area,” Journeaux explains. “The existing or proposed new railways could be an option, but our ore lends itself to transportation by slurry in a ferroduct, which provides a low operating cost alternative to rail so that is the transportation system we are looking at to get the product out.” New Millennium Iron is part of a consortium building a deep-water dock in Sept-Iles on the St. Lawrence River that is projected to be completed in mid-2014. The company plans to move the iron ore in concentrated slurry form from its deposit site to the Pointe Noire dock where it will be pelletized and shipped overseas. “The dock will give us the capability to load the largest operating vessels in the world and ship competitively even to more distant markets,” he adds. “The big advantage is the low-cost alternative we have for moving the iron ore concentrate from the mine to the port, which is less expensive than the railways others are using.”
And if those savings weren’t enough to make it a leading low-cost producer, New Millennium Iron is also updating its plants’ equipment to run more efficiently, Journeaux says. “Most mines were built 40 to 50 years ago, but our project would feature new plant equipment with the latest technology to lower our operating costs,” Journeaux says. Production is expected to begin on the deposits in 2019.
Having technologically advanced equipment is only as useful as the people who operate it, which is why New Millennium Iron focuses on extensive employee training in exploration and development. The company also trains First Nations people who live in the area of the Taconite Project to work on the mines, Journeaux says. “There are about 1,800 First Nations people living in the area who are underemployed, so training those people is very important to them and us,” he adds. “About 1,100 people will be required on the Taconite Project and obviously if we can employ the First Nations people, it would be best for them and us.”
Along with training, New Millennium Iron is focused on building additional partnerships with investors for its Taconite Project. “Where investors are concerned, you have to have a good ore deposit – we have it,” Journeaux says. “It has to be in an area that is politically stable and in an area where taxes are reasonable – it is; and of course, access to infrastructure – we don’t have it all yet, but it’s being built.”